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Rumsfeld Interview with Tim Russert, NBC

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Sunday, March 23, 2002 - 9 a.m. EST

(Interview with Tim Russert, NBC Meet The Press)

Russert: Good morning. America is at war, and this is a special live two-hour edition of Meet the Press.

With us, for his first interview since the war began, the man who runs the Pentagon, the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.


Rumsfeld: Thank you, Tim.

Russert: Let me show you the scene in Baghdad just moments ago. These are Iraqi citizens along the banks of the river. They are saying they are looking for two allied paratroopers who have parachuted into Baghdad because their plane has been shot down.

What can you tell us about it?

Rumsfeld: Nothing. The scene, some people are characterizing as staged -- I have no information that there are two downed pilots or paratroopers.

Russert: Are there any allied planes missing?

Rumsfeld: There has been a report of an aircraft that's missing.

Russert: So, in fact, there may be two paratroopers -- two parachutes that have been ejected from that plane?

Rumsfeld: I don't want to speculate because I simply don't know.

Russert: Let me show you pictures of the Iraqi vice president, who this morning had a news conference -- extremely defiant. One of the things he talked about, Mr. Secretary, was that at 7:30 Baghdad time, which is 11:30 a.m. here in Washington, he will show -- Iraqi TV will show -- American prisoners of war. Do you believe there are any American prisoners of war?

Rumsfeld: There could be. You know the -- under the Geneva Convention, it's illegal to do things with prisoners of war that are humiliating to those individuals. And the United States, of course, avoids showing photographs of prisoners of war. We have thousands of Iraqi prisoners that are in POW camps that we brought along and have erected in country. But we do not -- we avoid showing photographs of them.

It is possible -- there are also some journalists that are missing, and it could be that they have some journalists, but time will tell.

Russert: But there are some American soldiers missing?

Rumsfeld: There are -- we believe there are some American soldiers missing.

Russert: There are also reports that a Patriot missile, unfortunately inadvertently struck a British aircraft. Can you confirm that?

Rumsfeld: I've heard the reports. There's an investigation under way. And the normal procedure is that there is a method of identifying friendly aircraft. And if, indeed, what you said occurred, it very likely was a result of the fact that either the identification in the aircraft wasn't working properly or the ability to identify the identification from the Patriot battery wasn't working properly, in which case this type of a tragedy can occur.

Russert: Let me show you some scenes from this from Umm Qasr. This was a firefight between the United States military and Iraqi soldiers. It went on for about four hours on live television. There were interviews with many of the American soldiers there who said that they were meeting stiff resistance. Are you surprised by the level of resistance we are getting from the Iraqis?

Rumsfeld: No, I'm not. It's uneven. There are periodically instances where the resistance is quite stiff. There are, on the other hand, many instances where there have been large numbers of soldiers that have surrendered in the thousands. And it varies substantially from place to place and circumstance to circumstance. But one has to imagine that there would be pockets of resistance. I expect this to go on. You have to appreciate this conflict started on the ground 72 hours ago. The fact that there's a firefight someplace ought not to be surprising.

Russert: How would you describe the progress in the war thus far?

Rumsfeld: Well, the progress in the air has been excellent, and the progress of our special forces in the north and in the west has been excellent, and in the south. The ground forces are moving along at a very good clip and heading towards Baghdad. So I think all and all, while your heart breaks when there's a friendly fire incident or a -- when someone is killed or taken prisoner, nonetheless the general progress of it, I think, is excellent.

Russert: In 1991, in southern Iraq, in cities like Basra, there were insurrections against Saddam Hussein. Shouldn't those towns be much more supportive, appreciative of the United States military coming, rather than offering resistance?

Rumsfeld: The towns are friendly and supportive of our forces coming in -- in -- generally. There are pockets of resistance. There are people who are not from those towns who have been suppressing those towns, who are still in those towns, and who are undoubtedly the ones causing the resistance. So it ought not to be surprising.

Russert: There were some who were supportive of going to war with Iraq who described it as a "cake walk."

Rumsfeld: We never -- I never did. No one I know --

Russert: You did not?

Rumsfeld: No one I know in the Pentagon ever did.

Russert: It is far from it?

Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness, it's -- a war is a war. It's a brutal thing.

Russert: One real tragedy. Last night in Kuwait, Camp Pennsylvania, where the 101st Airborne is stationed, a U.S. soldier allegedly rolled a grenade into the tent of his commander. Here are some pictures of what happened. Wounded soldiers will be carried out. And then this soldier is taken into custody and being questioned for what occurred -- as he is being led off by his colleagues and comrades. What can you tell us about that?

Rumsfeld: You know, it's interesting. We permitted press people to be embedded, as they say, with the overwhelming majority of our elements -- air, land and sea. And so what happens is we see an image like that. Now, what occurred there I don't know, and there is an investigation under way, and it's not for me as the secretary of Defense to prejudge what took place. But if it's anything like what's being reported, it's the kind of an incident that occurs in cities and towns from time to time, and it's always unfortunate, always tragic, and one has to go through a process of investigation to try to determine what in fact happened and why it happened.

Russert: Has there been any judgment, determination made about the motive of that soldier?

Rumsfeld: Oh, of course not. It just occurred.

Russert: Is there any sense of betrayal by his fellow soldiers, and are you concerned about the morale in that unit?

Rumsfeld: No. It's a superb unit. They're wonderful young men and young women, and they are doing just a fabulous job for our country, and I am not worried about the morale. They are adults. They all volunteered to be there, God bless them, and they know that things like this occur, and apparently something like that may have occurred.

Russert: Let me show the latest pictures from Iraqi TV of Saddam Hussein. Shown there in a rather jovial -- that's Tariq Aziz, the deputy foreign minister drawing a laugh, sitting around a table. The Iraqis are saying that these pictures were taken yesterday -- more released today. What can you tell us about Saddam Hussein?

Rumsfeld: There are reports in Baghdad and Iraq that he may be dead. There are reports that he may have been injured. There are clearly reports that the leadership is in some disarray, if he's alive. And until time passes and ground truth is learned, we will just have to assume that he's alive and well. Those photographs -- video pictures -- appeared to some people who watched them to have been prerecorded and we do have intelligence saying that they prerecorded a number of events like that, so that they would have them available in case they were either killed or were not in a position to be accessible to the kinds of cameras and communication devices that would enable them to do that.

Russert: If you knew Saddam Hussein was dead, is it something that you would make public, or try to prevent from being made public in order to make sure Iraq did not break down in disarray?

Rumsfeld: It wouldn't matter what we tried to do. We have so many press people -- hundreds, hundreds of people that are right there. There are people on the ground in Baghdad. My personal view was if someone asked me that question, which no one ever has, I would say the truth is the truth -- just tell the truth, and if he's dead, he's dead. But we can't say that.

Russert: Is Saddam Hussein directing the Iraqi military at this time?

Rumsfeld: It's not knowable. He -- we have to assume that they had multiple methods of communication through the chain of command, that they had redundant systems, even from the most sophisticated down to couriers, which is quite primitive. So there unquestionably are linkages between their various units in some way, although we are getting reports that there is some confusion and disarray suspected by watching their behavior.

Russert: Are you somewhat surprised by the level and intensity of defiance being shown by the Iraqi vice president and other senior Iraqi officials?

Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness, no. I don't know that particular gentleman, but anyone who defied Saddam Hussein got shot -- sometimes in public. They took one person last week and cut his tongue out and left him to bleed to death in the public square. This is a vicious, vicious regime. If he tells one of his henchmen to go out and say that, and tells him precisely what to say, he either says it or he's shot.

Russert: Let me show you the Iraqi foreign minister. This is a picture from Damascus, Syria. This is Naji Sabri. He left Iraq, went to Damascus, Syria, and he's on his way to Cairo, Egypt, for an Arab ministers meeting. How could the foreign minister of Iraq get out of that country in the middle of a war?

Rumsfeld: Oh, the borders are porous. The borders going every which way are porous. This is rugged terrain, and there's no -- look at our borders with Mexico and Canada -- they're porous -- people pour back and forth across them all the time.

Russert: So Saddam could have gotten out?

Rumsfeld: Anyone could get out or in. I mean, my goodness, of course.

Russert: Christian Science Monitor had an interesting story and headline, and let me read it, and share it with you, and then talk about it. "Regime change: How will we know when it happens? Pentagon planners have analyzed hundreds of scenarios for the Iraqi war, but one of the most challenging may be this: Baghdad is captured, Saddam Hussein cannot be found. His sons, too, have slipped away into tunnels and bunkers hidden under the capital city. And weeks go by. At what point will the United States be able to declare that the regime has changed? When President Hussein is captured or dead? When his elite 25,000-man Special Republican Guard surrenders? When the top 2,000 members of the ruling Baath Party have been purged from government?" How would you answer that?

Rumsfeld: None of the above. A government is either governing or it's not. And if it's not, then someone else is. And, clearly, the regime will have changed at that point where they no longer are in control of the real estate of that country, where they are no longer in control of the air space of that country, where their diplomatic communications are being handled by someone other than that regime. It is self-evident, it seems to me, that either they are governing their country, which they are not now -- I mean, there are major portions in the north they don't govern. There are major portions in the west they don't govern. And every hour that goes by there's more and more real estate in the south that they don't govern.

Russert: Our troops are making a fast run to Baghdad. When do you think they'll be there by?

Rumsfeld: When they get there. General Franks and his component commanders -- Admiral Keating and General Moseley and General McKiernan are a superb team and they have fashioned a very thoughtful plan. It is a flexible plan. It is a plan that enables them to take advantage of opportunities that occur. And they'll proceed at a pace that makes sense for the coalition forces. We have Australian and British and Polish forces on the ground with us. They are doing a wonderful job, and they are in charge, and we -- they report back and advise what's taking place and what they anticipate will take place over the next 24 hours. And so far they've been pretty much on schedule or ahead of plan.

Russert: The Iraqi vice president said today, "We don't mind them coming through our deserts. We want them to come to Baghdad, because that's where they are going to meet Iraqi resistance like they have never seen." Saddam Hussein has said to Iraqis, "Don't be too nervous -- wait until you can see their eyes, and when they come to Baghdad things will be different." What happens when our troops get to Baghdad? How concerned are you about a prolonged urban warfare?

Rumsfeld: Well, I'm the kind of person who is concerned about all the things and difficulties and problems that can occur, and we have spent a great deal of time thinking about them, analyzing them, preparing for them. I think that there's some truth to that, that -- and there is a possibility that as the coalition forces move from the south and from the north and from the west that the degree of resistance could increase for a period. On the other hand, the outcome is clear. It is -- there is no question but that that regime is through, that in fact it's over. And at some point the people -- to put yourself in the shoes of the people in that country, they have been repressed by a vicious regime, a minority regime; the military forces at some point, fearful of Saddam Hussein and his clique, at some point their fear of him will be much less than their fear of us. And those will begin to surrender. And how it will happen and how long it will take and when it will tip, I don't know. Nobody knows. But what is certain is that Saddam Hussein is through, and there will be a different government in that country.

Russert: You mentioned flexibility, and I want to talk about that in just a second. But there was a question asked of you at your news conference on Friday, and here it is: "Could I ask, sir, are there talks going on between this building, the Pentagon, and the Iraqi senior military leadership?" Secretary Rumsfeld: "The way you've put it, the answer is no. If you're thinking is there country-to-country dialogue taking place, the answer is no." You're always very precise with the English language.

Rumsfeld: I try to be. (Laughs.)

Russert: General Franks yesterday said there's "ongoing dialogue with a number of senior Iraqi official, people in and out of uniform." Both your statement and his statement could be true?

Rumsfeld: They are. They are both true.

Russert: What kind of discussion is going on with senior Iraqi officials? And who is it with? Third parties? Third countries? Who?

Rumsfeld: We have people on the ground in the country in a variety of locations. They are talking to senior military leaders. And in a number of instances those leaders have communicated how they thought it would be appropriate for them to surrender, and they have done so. There have been a number of units that have surrendered.

Russert: Republican Guard and higher?

Rumsfeld: Umm, I don't want to get into which units at the moment. We'll announce the units at some point.

Second, we have people on the ground who are communicating with various other people who -- it's hard to say -- you say in uniform and out of uniform -- that's true. But, of course, there are people in the intelligence business there who aren't necessarily in uniform but are involved as part of that regime. And there have been communications with people like that. Whether they'll reach fruition is unclear in any one instance.

The closer we get to Baghdad, the greater the pressure, the more likely that they'll tip. On the other hand, you have to assume that some of the people environment you are talking to may be covering their bets. They may be not certainty that the regime is over yet, or still fearful that they could be killed. But we have had people take considerable risks. They have taken risks to deal with our people.

Russert: The fact that you say that this morning, the fact that we launched the rockets, missiles, last Wednesday night into a bunker where we think Saddam and his top advisors may have been --very much indicates you are trying to get into Saddam's head, "we know where you are -- we are talking to your closest friends." True?

Rumsfeld: Oh, I know I didn't say their closest friends, but I don't know that Saddam Hussein has any friends, to be honest.

Russert: Top Iraqi leaders.

Rumsfeld: We are trying to prevail with the minimum loss of life. And the way that can be achieved is if the Iraqi military and the Iraqi intelligence forces act with honor, recognize that that regime is finished, surrender, follow the instructions that we have been communicating to them. They know precisely what to do and how to do it to avoid being killed and to shorten the conflict.

Russert: Show, shock and awe with military strikes, pull back a bit and say, how are the conversations going so far? If they delay, would you suspect they are trying to buy time or playing both sides? More shock and awe? Is that the kind of flexibility you want to show?

Rumsfeld: I have never been one much for graduated response, but what we are trying to do is to recognize that the bulk of the Iraqi people have been held hostage by that regime. And the goal is to liberate them from that regime, and to find the weapons of mass destruction and to get the terrorists out of that country. General Franks and his team are seeking ways to do that with a minimum loss of life, on our side, on the coalition side, on the part of the Iraqi people. And so we are giving them full opportunity to do it the easy way. And when it doesn't work, we'll do it the hard way.

Russert: On Friday night, a very heavy bombing of Baghdad. At the exact time of the bombing --

Rumsfeld: Could I correct you?

Russert: Yes, sir.

Rumsfeld: The pictures made it look like we were bombing Baghdad. We were not bombing Baghdad. That is the greater Baghdad area, and in it there are a large number of military targets and command and control and regime targets. And that is what we were bombing, and it was very precise, and it made it look like the city was ablaze. The city was not ablaze. The Iraqi regime was ablaze.

Russert: During that exact time of that precision bombing, the Iraqi defense minister was having a briefing, and let's watch and listen carefully.

(Video of bombing in background.)

Rumsfeld: We missed.

Russert: You said you missed.

Rumsfeld: Well, he's still standing.

Russert: That is General Sultan Hashim Ahmad, the defense minister, who was having a briefing while the bombing of the military installation was going on. Their defense ministry is still intact.

Rumsfeld: What's your point?

Russert: Why would the defense ministry still be operational?

Rumsfeld: Obviously we didn't hit it.

Russert: But it's certainly a legitimate target?

Rumsfeld: Absolutely.

Russert: Why have we left Iraqi TV on so that briefings like this from the defense minister, or the information minister, or the vice president, can go out on the airwaves as you said with their propaganda. Why not take down their TV?

Rumsfeld: The -- first of all, it's a call that General Franks will make, and he'll make it at a time of his choosing. What the Iraqis have done is to demonstrate their lack of respect for human life, and they have put their military installations near mosques and their hospitals and schools. They have put their communications systems in downtown Baghdad, and co-mingled civil action, civil activities with military activities. And they have done it in very close proximity to large numbers of innocent men, women and children. And it would be highly desirable to have completely, totally ended any ability on their ability to communicate. It may happen, and I would strongly advise the people, the civilians who are anywhere near those facilities, that they leave.

Russert: Near the television facilities?

Rumsfeld: You bet. And the communications facilities. They ought to stay home, they ought to not be there.

Russert: And power grids?

Rumsfeld: And we -- whatever. I think people who want to save lives ought to stay away from facilities that are military facilities or dual-use facilities, because it's not safe.

Russert: You talked -- there was a quote in USA Today from March 13th about you. "What could go wrong? The worry goes all the way to the top. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld keeps a typewritten list of what he calls very unpleasant things that could go wrong, topped by concerns about chemical and biological weapons, house-to-house fighting in Baghdad, and civil war in post-Saddam Iraq. 'There are any number of things that could go wrong,' Rumsfeld said." Has anything gone wrong so far?

Rumsfeld: Sure. We've had an unfortunate incident where friendlies killed friendlies. We had a group of folks -- helicopter collisions. But in terms of the big list that I had, that I presented to the president many, many months ago, and again very recently, many of those things -- some of those things are off the table. We have in fact saved the southern oil fields for the Iraqi people, and that's very good thing, and it was a big risk. There are only some 10 out of 500-plus oil wells that are still burning and we have people coming in tomorrow and the next day to repair them. But the potential for the use of weapons of mass destruction, it grows as we get closer to Baghdad, for example. The possibility of intercommunal strife, once the Iraqi police are gone, the repressive police are gone, still exists. There are still things that could happen, and I review them continuously.

Russert: Thus far we have not found any biological or chemical weapons? Is that accurate?

Rumsfeld: We've been on the ground for 72 hours fighting a war. We're not in that business at the moment.

Russert: But you have no doubt that we will find chemical, biological weapons?

Rumsfeld: The Central Intelligence Agency, and indeed the intelligence community, has massive amounts of information with respect to that subject, which I believe.

Russert: You also believe we will find files which indicate broad terrorist ties with Saddam Hussein and other organizations throughout the world?

Rumsfeld: You never know if you will find the files. We have information that they have been dispersing their documentation, files, putting them in private homes, burying things, and trying to avoid being caught in that. But I suspect we will.

Russert: Do you believe that Saddam Hussein will use chemical and biological weapons against our troops as they approach Baghdad?

Rumsfeld: I just don't know. He used them against his own people. He used them against his neighbors, the Iranians. On the other hand, he can't do it himself, which is a good thing. He can order it, but he can't physically make it happen. And we have focused extensively on the military people that he would have to persuade to do it, and let them know in no uncertain terms that they must not do it, and if they do it they will be hunted down and punished.

Russert: Turkey. The Turkish prime minister told the Washington Post today that he has an agreement with the United States to put Turkish troops in northern Iraq to work with the American troops. Is that accurate?

Rumsfeld: I don't know precisely what he said in the context of who he was talking to or what he said. The Turkish forces have over the years moved in and out of northern Iraq in relatively small numbers. They have expressed a concern about their border and the risk of refugees, although I can say there was another humanitarian crisis problem that could have occurred, and at the moment it looks like it's not occurring. There are not large numbers of refugees fleeing into Jordan or into Turkey. We have told the Turkish government that we want to stay in very close military-to-military contact with them. We are in very close military-to-military contact with the Kurds, and we do not feel it's appropriate or necessary for them to bring large numbers of forces into northern Iraq, and to my knowledge they're not. I have heard speculation that they might. I've seen people report that they seem to be moving in that direction, but I have absolutely no information that supports that speculation.

Russert: Under the Fourth Geneva Convention accords, if we are in Iraq and the Turks attempt to attack the Kurds in northern Iraq, we have an obligation to defend the Kurds. Is that your understanding?

Rumsfeld: There is no question but that we would do what we needed to do to see that there was not a conflict between friendly forces in northern Iraq.

Russert: A lot of discussions about going to war. In 1998, the Project for the New American Century wrote a letter which you signed with Bill Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz, your deputy, saying it was time for military action against Saddam Hussein. On September 11th -- and I'll show it on the screen -- at 2:40 in the afternoon, according to your notes, you said, Let's get some info past -- judge whether good enough to hit Saddam Hussein -- or a reference to Hussein -- at the same time -- not only Osama bin Laden. You have felt for some time that it was going to be necessary to use military force against Saddam Hussein, haven't you?

Rumsfeld: You said my notes. I didn't keep notes. That can be my notes.

Russert: There were notes made contemporaneously of conversations you were having on September 11th?

Rumsfeld: By whom?

Russert: By people on your staff. That was reported by the Associated Press and by CBS.

Rumsfeld: That doesn't make it so. I have never seen those notes.

Russert: That's not accurate?

Rumsfeld: I have no idea what I -- I don't remember what I said, but I didn't keep notes, and I have no idea of what notes anyone is referring to.

Russert: But have you felt for some time that military action against Saddam was necessary?

Rumsfeld: I think most people who have watched what's taken place since the Gulf War have been disturbed and concerned and disappointed that diplomacy has not work. The efforts were extensive -- they went on for years and years and years. We have been disappointed that the economic sanctions didn't work. Now, you've only got three choices. You've got diplomatic efforts, economic efforts and military efforts. For better than a decade diplomacy was attempted. For better than half a decade, the economic sanctions have been attempted. And with the northern and southern no-fly zones, limited military efforts were not effective. The borders are porous. Saddam Hussein kept denying his people the benefits that they deserve from the resources in that country, and buying weapons and continuing weapons programs, and defying the United Nations through 17 resolutions. I think most reasonable people who looked at it were disappointed that the diplomacy and the economic sanctions simply didn't work.

Russert: There are many in the world asking for more time for negotiations, for diplomacy -- the Vatican -- the pope issued this statement: "Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history."

Rumsfeld: It's true.

Russert: And you accept that?

Rumsfeld: Indeed. It is a fair statement. War is the last choice. President Bush has said that repeatedly, and he has made every effort humanly possible to avoid it.

Russert: Yesterday in New York City and across --

Rumsfeld: Indeed, he gave a final ultimatum to avoid war: leave in 48 hours -- after exhausting every other step. He is -- I am sure very people could disagree with what the pope said.

Russert: Yesterday in New York City, some 200,000 Americans took to the street and protested -- there's video -- across the world. What would you say to those protestors?

Rumsfeld: Well, I -- this is a free country -- people can have their own views, and they always have. In every war, there have been protestors. The American Firsters filled Madison Square Garden repeatedly with thousands of people before World War II while Europe was in flames, while millions of Jews were being killed, and the chant was, "Don't get involved in a war in Europe." It's a natural human reaction for people to want to avoid war.

Russert: Do they affect the morale of the fighting men and women?

Rumsfeld: The young men and women in the armed services of the United States are so wonderful. They are all there as volunteers. They care deeply. They are proud of what they are trained to do. They are well trained and well equipped. And I am confident that they know that the overwhelming majority of the American people support what they are doing, and they do. The American people are very much in support of what's being done. A hundred percent? No. There are people in the street demonstrating, and that's fair enough. That's what we do in our country. That's what democracies are about.

Russert: You are one of the few Americans to have ever met Saddam Hussein -- this is back in December of 1983. You were a special envoy from President Reagan to talk with him about resuming diplomatic relations in some form. You said at that time, "Saddam made it clear Iraq was not interested in making mischief." Now looking at that 20 years later, what conclusion have you come to?

Rumsfeld: Well, let me put that statement in context. We had just had 241 Marines killed in a terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon. President Reagan and Secretary George Shultz asked me to serve for a period of months as a special presidential envoy. The problem was that there were terrorists in Lebanon and in Syria that were causing difficulties there, and it would have been helpful if Iraq, which was engaged in a war with Iran, would take the steps necessary to not make mischief, or additional mischief of the kind that Syria and Lebanon were engaged in -- Lebanon against its will. I mean, the Syrians had forces in Lebanon. The Lebanese government was very supportive of us and very helpful. But that is the mischief that was referred to.

Russert: Did we misjudge Saddam?

Rumsfeld: No, not at all. I mean, he was using chemical weapons against the Iranians, and we -- I told Tariq Aziz that that was something that the United States couldn't condone. And, no, we didn't misjudge him. I mean, people are what they are.

Russert: What were your impressions when you met him face to face?

Rumsfeld: Well, the city was at war. The border of Iran is very close to Baghdad, and the capital of Iran is a long way from Iraq's borders. So they were being shelled, and there were bunkers around buildings. We came in and he was a wartime leader trying to prevail in a war that he had started. And he -- he's tough. He's a survivor. And I don't think anybody could live as he does, with his picture in every room in every building on every street corner, and not begin to believe you were something you weren't.

Russert: Do you think he'll ever surrender?

Rumsfeld: I don't know. I hope he does. It will save lives. I think it's probably unlikely.

Russert: Before we go, what would you like to say to the American people today about this war? What should they expect? What should they be thinking when they're watching it and observing it? How long will it go on?

Rumsfeld: Well, I think that the one thing I'd say is there have to be tough days ahead. Wars are unpredictable. There are still a large number of the difficulties and things that can go wrong that are still ahead of us. The young men and women that are out there are doing a superb job, and the outcome is clear: it will end, and Saddam Hussein's regime will be gone, and the United States will be a safer place for it.

Russert: There could be significant casualties.

Rumsfeld: How long is not knowable. How many casualties is not knowable. And that's just the only honest thing anyone can say.

Russert: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, we thank you for joining us this morning. We hope to talk to you throughout the course of this war on a regular basis. Thank you very much.

Rumsfeld: Thank you.


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